It used to be said that loyalty was the Tory party’s secret weapon. But this supposed strength hasn’t been very apparent in recent years. Indeed, at times, it seems that the Tory party hasn’t quite recovered from the demons unleashed by Margaret Thatcher’s ouster twenty-odd years ago.   Douglas Carswell’s defection means that Westminster, when it is not panicking about the Scottish referendum, is chuntering about whether his move to Ukip is the harbinger of a bigger Tory split to come, one that The Spectator explores this week.

Worryingly for the Tory loyalists, there are people on all sides of the party are preparing for this fight.  As one Tory MP tells me, ‘It has that civil war quality to it: people just want to harm the other side.’’   There is plenty of blame to go round for this situation. David Cameron didn’t cause this split on the right. But he hasn’t helped heal it either. His own party and personnel management has also been lacking. As even one loyalist remarks, Cameron ‘has put himself at risk of ‘suffering death from a thousand slights’. While those on the right who say there is little difference between Cameron and Miliband are being wilfully blind.   But if the Tory party indulges in several months of introspection, it will lose the next election. The electorate does not like divided parties and if the Tories are talking to themselves while Labour are trying to talk to the public, they’ll only be one winner in 2o15.

Tags: Clacton, Clacton by-election, Conservatives, David Cameron, Douglas Carswell, Margaret Thatcher, Tories, Tory wars, UK politics